Former WEC bantamweight champ Miguel Torres coasted to a unanimous decision win over Nick Pace at UFC 139, but it wasn't any fun to watch. Torres used his reach advantage to land some desultory jabs and the odd stiff straight right. He landed some sharp inside leg kicks too. But mostly the fight consisted of Torres controlling Pace in the standing clinch or getting a slight positional edge on the ground.
No matter where the fight went, Torres was fighting defensive. Where he once relentlessly attacked his opponents with punches in bunches and a vicious mix of high-risk/high reward kicks, Torres instead fought as if he were constantly conscious that his opponent's right hand was aimed at his face with bad intentions. Protecting yourself at all times is a great mantra for self-defense, but a fighter who's thinking defense first instead of looking to destroy his opponent is swimming upstream.
Two and a half years ago, Torres was all killer instinct. His championship reign in the WEC was marked by wild, action-packed fights in which Torres was always one step ahead of his opponent. Until he walked into a nuclear right hand from Brian Bowles and lost his title and his confidence in one instant.
Since that loss he's 3-2 and hasn't even earned a chance to regain the bantamweight title -- a belt that's increased dramatically in value now that it's a UFC title.
Torres hasn't played it pat. He has upgraded his camp, training with Firas Zihabi, one of welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre's main coaches. He's training harder than ever. But there's one thing that a coach can't instill in a fighter and that's the illusion that he's invincible and cannot lose. As deluded as that belief may be, even for a champion, it is essential to being a really great fighter. Torres seems to have lost the megalomania that made him a great champ.
Maybe he'll find it again, in the mean time, fans can safely skip his fights and come back later to catch the highlights.